My First Improv Show: The Bish Bosh Bash Christmas Special!

Over the past couple of weeks, we've had the pleasure of hosting Holly, a wonderful work placement student from the University of the West of England. Holly had her first taste of improv at the Bish Bosh Bash on 1st December (which also happened to be our first Christmas show of this year!). Have a read of her blog post to find out what she thought.

I’m currently completing a short placement with the Bristol Improv Theatre, where I’ve been witnessing the behind-the-scenes of the company in its busiest season of the year and getting a grasp on the logistics of a theatre company. The team here were immediately so friendly and accommodating and I was lucky enough to watch my first improvised theatre show here, consolidating that it’s certainly not my last.

With a barrel of laughs and boughs of holly, “The Bish Bosh Bash Christmas Special” pulled in a packed audience to enjoy a night of spontaneity with off-the-chart talent. The cast of 8, splits into 2 teams to battle one another in a contest of quick wit. Although sometimes it might be intimidating to go to a show on your own, I found myself quickly throwing my head back with laughter whilst simultaneously being slightly in awe of the comedic sharpness of the cast.

To give a flavour of the show, here of some of my favourite moments.

In the first half, the cast played a series of short games:

Based on the popular game “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, comes Whose ‘Pine’ is it Anyway?, a game where one team improvises a sketch based on the audience's live suggestions whilst fitting in their pre-written lines from Christmas movies. The audiences’ suggestions took them to Western Super Mare, where the conflict of the “West Side” and “East Side” gangs unfold at a Candyfloss stand, where they boast about their tattoos and gang mantras, one of which becoming something along the lines of “the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart”.

The School Nativity: A class of year 3's put on their Nativity and with the help of the audience, new characters come into play such as the ever-Christmassy King Herod, “Die Hard’s” John McClane and the fan-favourite: the Christmas Octopus!

In the second half, the competitive element got real as 6 members of the team battled it out to create the ultimate improvised story. The audience gives the directors prompts to aid the scenes and choose which stories they want to keep to the end via the classic “Clapometer”. After each round, pitches get knocked out.

One pitch that made it far was a Claymation, where the American townspeople have a wrapping paper shortage at Christmas and decide to seek a solution by travelling on “Christmas Dolphins” to England.

The winning pitch was a Rom-Com, set in TK Maxx, where an employer is pursued by the slightly narcissistic spaceman "Max Von Space". This peculiar romance transports the pair through time and space, literally. The magic of improvised theatre: instantly creating the gold that board rooms hanker for.

Each cast member had a charisma that brought the show to life. The way they quickly bounced off one another with such ease was a joy to watch.

Improvised theatre has become a newfound enjoyment of mine. It deconstructs the typical formality of a theatre show, inviting the audience to help create their own, with the actors spinning short prompts into scenes of intrigue and hilarity. I love the way actors break the fourth wall in Improv shows. It sort of feels as though we are observing ourselves as humans, sitting in rows watching other humans which, existentially, is quite a strange concept.

The Bristol Improv Theatre has such a warm feel, with its cosy bar space, decked with artwork and fairy lights and its smart black box theatre. It’s a fabulous venue with a highly talented team both behind the scenes and on the stage and I cannot wait to watch more shows in 2024.

If you’re thinking about seeing your first Improv show or are a seasoned pro, “The Bish Bosh Bash Show” returns monthly in 2024. I can’t recommend it enough!

Head to The Bish Bosh Bash event page to book your tickets for their next show!

-Holly Farmer

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Amy Iles